Airlines are not prepared for the surge in travelers because they don't have enough planes - or pilots to fly them.
Business Insider / email@example.com (Thomas Pallini)
Many US carriers shed older aircraft from their fleets in a cash-saving effort during the worst times of the pandemic. At the time, vaccines a distant dream and travel demand wasn't expected to rebound for years.
"The airlines were being forced to make very complex decisions under enormous pressure," Henry Harteveldt, travel industry analyst and cofounder of Atmosphere Research Group, told Insider. "Key among them is: How do you bring your costs down to survive an approximately 96% decline in demand?"
But Southwest Airlines, after accelerating the retirement of 737-700 aircraft in 2020, is now saying that the airline's current fleet won't be enough to support the carrier's business model in the upcoming years and could hinder expansion efforts.
"We don't feel like we have enough airplanes for 2022 and 2023, and that's just doing what you know us to be famous for," Gary Kelly, Southwest's chief executive officer, CNBC, referring to its current business of mostly domestic flying.
Now that demand is ramping up, airlines might find themselves without enough planes to keep up and Southwest isn't the only airline that shed planes during the pandemic. Delta Air Lines similarly parted with three fleet types including the McDonnell-Douglas MD-80/MD-90, Boeing 737-700, and Boeing 777-200 series of aircraft.
Those aircraft now sit in storage facilities and bringing them back into service would be too great of an expense for airlines, according to Richard Aboulafia, vice president of analysis for Teal Group. New builds from manufacturers, including the Boeing 737 Max and Airbus A220, are preferable but come at a slower rate.
The aircraft shortage is also compounded by the age-old pilot shortage, with not even pilots to fly the ambitious schedules that airlines have set. American Airlines saw the impacts of over-scheduling in mid-June when hundreds of flights were canceled in a single weekend thanks to a combination of labor shortages and severe weather.
"The pilot shortage that loomed over the industry in 2019 may have abated slightly, but it hasn't gone away," Harteveldt said.
Airlines moved to shed staff last year, including pilots and flight attendants, through buyouts and voluntary separation programs in a bid to lower costs. But just like with aircraft, some may have parted ways with too many now that demand is rebounding.
"Perhaps they had lost more pilots and flight attendants than they otherwise would have wanted and as a result, that may have reduced their ability to scale up their flying as demand returned," Harteveldt said.
Shortages stemming from massive staff reductions also could've been avoided since airlines were the recipients of three rounds of federal stimulus money.
"I think that the airlines would probably admit — privately if not on the record — that perhaps they should have been less aggressive in encouraging employees to the pilots and flight attendants to take buyouts and leave the company when the government was going to cover 70% of those employees' wages," Harteveldt said.
Delta has committed to hire and train 1,000 new pilots between now and next summer and United has launched a pilot training program, Aviate, that provides financing options and a pathway to flying its aircraft for students.
Airline schedules are now highly unreliable and travelers booking flights should be prepared for unexpected changes or cancellations. Changes to airline schedules can occur anytime and travelers should frequently be checking their bookings to see if changes have occurred.
If an airline has changed a traveler's trip, they have the right to request a new flight or even a refund if the change is great enough.
Jennifer Leigh Parker
Contributor Forbes Magazine June 7th 2021.
A confluence of technology, government cooperation and medical expertise came together to keep Parrot Cay open during the pandemic.
Here’s how they did it:
“Do you want to see something crazy? Look here.”
Jimmy the tour guide plunges his bare hand down into crystal clear saltwater to grab the silky tail of a baby nurse shark, who's been gliding under the shade of wild mangroves all morning, munching its way through a live buffet of conch shells and spiny sea urchin, entirely nonplussed by the presence of our large and lumbering kayaks. Luckily, the shark swims away too quickly for Jimmy, who has better luck snatching slimy jellyfish and pissing sea slugs up from their sleepy sandbar for the show-and-tell portion of our tropical eco-tour.
More plentiful in wildlife and wonder than any man-made aquarium, the turquoise channels, mangrove-shaded flats, and shallow reefs surrounding the 40 Turks and Caicos islands possess a staggering natural beauty unmatched, in my view, by any other Caribbean atoll.
Beyond beauty, these islands also claim the most coveted attribute in the post-Covid world: relative safety. The British overseas territory’s competent containment of coronavirus allowed the country to reopen to international visitors last July. As of this publication, according to the country’s tourism board, the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients in the Turks and Caicos is one. Since the onset of the pandemic, the country has reported 2,421 total cases of Covid-19. For the risk-averse international traveler, this is about as safe as it’s going to get.
Located 575 miles south-east of Miami, where the unmasked and unruly still plague the sweaty flip-flop of an international airport and its pandemic-weary staff, a true escape awaits. It’s called COMO Parrot Cay, the private island-turned-resort owned by Singapore’s billionaire power couple Christina Ong and Ong Beng Seng. Nestled between thick groves of sea grapes, beneath the shade of coconut palms and royal poinciana trees, this colonial estate is spread out alongside four miles of soft white sand and turquoise waters as far as the eye can see. With 45 airy, white-on-Balinese wood rooms and suites and nine private beach houses, social distancing is literally built into the experience. Want to book a private dinner on your own stretch of beach, or snorkel all day without seeing another soul? It’s not a problem.
The catch is getting here.
You’ve got to cut through a lot of required red tape, including in-person doctor visits to administer mail order PCR tests (which must be taken within five days of arrival). You must purchase travel insurance which covers COVID-19 medical costs and full hospitalization, doctors’ visits, prescriptions, and air ambulance costs — but not necessarily accommodations (coverage amounts vary depending on which of these 13 listed providers you choose). You must also submit a government application via the “TCI Assured Portal” for approval before even thinking about which bathing suits and summer novels to pack.
It all makes for a stressful few days before takeoff, but generally speaking, this is the reality of international travel post-Covid. You should expect a gauntlet of pandemic pre-screenings and ad-hoc regulations, and the Turks are no exception. At some point in the process, you’re going to wonder whether all the prep is worth it. It is, and then some. Each hurdle you have to jump makes the experience seem all the more safe and secure once you arrive — because everyone in your 6-foot radius has been jumping hurdles too.
This kind of trip also has a major impact on the local economy and resort staff, many of whom are born and bred islanders. “I got my first shot on Jan 13th, because the government considered tourism employees essential workers. Tourism is really the only source of economy here. When the country reopened in July, Americans were tired of lock down and Europe wasn’t an option. But what really helped us reopen was our ‘we’re in this together’ approach,” said Atilla Cimsit, a hospitality-industry veteran now working as COMO Parrot Cay’s director of guest experience.
Sitting on the sun-baked balcony of the resort’s modern Italian restaurant, Cimsit explained how he kept every single employee on the payroll (327 staffers, including 127 on Parrot Cay, and about 200 in North Caicos and Providenciales), and how restricting capacity to a maximum of 50 guests helped keep Covid at bay. It’s a rare success story after a year marked by catastrophic devastation for the travel industry. But by April 2021, COMO Parrot Cay was booking the “best revenues in the resort’s history.”
Build tech to screen incoming passengers — This doesn’t necessarily have to be ‘hi-tech.’ It just has to be workable, coherent, and applicable to all parties involved. That’s why, prior to the building of the website, government officials met with the tourism association to prepare for the country’s reopening. “As our members make up the vast majority of the local resorts and villas on the islands, the government requested protocol suggestions from [us],” confirmed Sonia Simmons, communications manager for the Turks and Caicos’ Hotel & Tourism Association. The result is the TCI Assured Portal, developed by Amber Innovations Limited and owned by the government of the Turks and Caicos Islands. In this case, cooperation and communication made reopening possible.
Provide on-property Covid tests — By partnering with Grace Bay Medical in neighboring Providenciales, COMO Parrot Cay received government approval to perform antigen tests on property. This became necessary after the U.S. and UK announced pre-arrival testing requirements where travelers must show proof of a negative viral test administered within three days of travel. Now COMO Parrot Cay is one of the 12 licensed antigen testing sites in the Turks and Caicos. Grace Bay medical staff administer the tests and process the paperwork while the resort provides guest rooms solely used as clinics for testing.
Rotate staff in case of quarantine — Adopt a Team A and Team B mentality, especially in restaurants. If someone tests positive, the entire team needs to be taken out of operation for a period of quarantine, while the other team sterilizes the premises and moves in. For this to go smoothly, it helps if management reserves a few guest rooms for just-in-case quarantines, which safeguard both guests and staff.
Avoid layoffs at all costs — Anyone with a critical eye will scoff at this measure. Of course a billionaire-owned resort can avoid layoffs. I feel you, but when pent-up travel demand hits hotels, as is already happening, it really helps to have experienced, qualified staff able to hit the ground running. “When we come out, we’re going to need every team member to perform. We didn’t have to worry about bringing new people in and training them. It was easy to get back to normal, and everyone still wears a mask,” adds Cimsit.
Regardless of where you choose to stay in the Turks and Caicos, be it the basic singles favorite Club Med in Provo, COMO Parrot Cay for the healthy food and great spa, Amanyara for the peace and quiet, or the new Ritz-Carlton (opening in Grace Bay this July) — the main draw is the sheer beauty of the place and its people.
Take Jimmy, for example. A born and bred islander, he’s worked for COMO Hotels and Resorts for 15 years. He knows everything there is to know about the flora and fauna of this place, from the best fishing holes for bonefish to the warmest resting rocks for curly-tailed lizards. There isn’t a mangrove channel in these parts he hasn’t fished by hand, and he can tell you pretty much anything about these islands you could possibly want to know. Now, he’s building his own house on North Caicos island. Like so many of the COMO staffers, who are noticeably good at what they do, you can’t help but be happy for him.
June 21, 2021
AUA Airport’s air seat capacity climb continues as airlines continue to build summer network to meet growing demand.
Airlines to add over 125 flights to June and July AUA Airport flight schedules.
ORANJESTAD – Aruba Airport Authority N.V. (AAA), company that manages and operates Queen Beatrix International Airport (AUA Airport) reports the following traffic highlights:
According to schedules from Cirium combined with CAPA Fleet Database seat configurations, AUA Airport Flight Schedules (translated into air seat capacity) for 3rd quarter and early winter 2021-2022 are still showing recovery rates of 83% and 94% of 2019 levels.
The statistics represent AUA Airport’s quarterly seat capacity (released on June 7, 2021) by region. Note that schedules filed by airlines for the rest of the summer are regularly being trimmed.
Latin America continues to have the deepest cut among the regions. Nevertheless, it continues a modestly improving trend since the period between mid-April and late May. With Brazil, Argentina, and Colombia having the highest number of cases in South America.
Overall Air Seat Capacity is likely to be at 80% of pre-pandemic levels between June and September, rising to 94% between November and December, depending on the success of the Latin America’s vaccine program and multi-speed travel market recovery, with overall winter traffic potentially at 75-100%.
Summer 2020 | Schedule Highlights:
FLIGHT SCHEDULES (AIRPORTARUBA.COM)
"The demand environment is unquestionably positive with our airlines adding new destinations and capacity by increasing the frequency of flights. We are confident that we will see a return to relative high volumes in that key July, August, September third quarter”; AUA Airport’s Air Service Development Manager Mrs. Jo-Anne Meaux-Arends.
KRISTIN MAJCHER Fortune Magazine June 21, 2021
This story is part of The Path to Zero, a series of special reports on how business can lead the fight against climate change. This quarter's stories go in-depth on sustainability in supply chains.
The luxurious and laid-back Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort in Aruba has been singled out by TripAdvisor as the most romantic hotel in the Caribbean for six years running. But you might never guess that the adults-only retreat, with 104 elegant, modern rooms, is also one of the most sustainable hotels in the world.
That’s because more than 20 years ago, Bucuti & Tara Beach Resort owner Ewald Biemans found himself in an uncomfortable situation: A German guest at the Aruba hotel became upset when staff served him beer in a single-use plastic cup instead of a reusable container.
The reaction stuck with Biemans, a 75-year-old environmentalist who decided to ban single-use plastics and styrofoam shortly after. Since opening Bucuti & Tara in 1987, Biemans has been relentlessly focused on making it as environmentally friendly as possible—to the point where it remains the only hotel in the Caribbean boasting a carbon-neutral certification.
Bucuti & Tara is one of a growing number of hotels focused on natural resources, as travelers and investors increasingly seek more information about how hotels approach sustainability and how their trips impact the environment.
From small boutiques to large chains, hotels all over the world are setting goals to not only cut down on water, electricity, and waste but also seek out suppliers that follow the same guidelines.
Yet a lack of clear standards when it comes to defining sustainability in supply chains can leave travelers confused about how these efforts compare to those of competitors, how these standards are regulated, and their overall impact on the environment. To solve this, hotels are increasingly seeking third-party certifications to audit their operations in addition to setting their own goals.
“Our data is showing that [customers are] voting with not just their wallets, but with their wallets and their value sets,” said Kristin Campbell, Hilton Worldwide’s general counsel and chief ESG officer.
Travelers’ interest in the environment has been growing steadily for years, but hotel executives say the pandemic was an inflection point inspiring people to reflect on their own role in climate change.
According to a recent Booking.com survey of more than 29,000 travelers spanning 30 countries, 83% said sustainability is important, while 61% reported that the pandemic has inspired them to travel more sustainably. In 2021, 81% of travelers surveyed said they intended to stay in a “sustainable accommodation” at least once in the coming year, compared with 74% in 2020 and only 62% in 2016. And 76% said they would seek out places to stay with a third-party sustainability certification from a reputable source.
“The pandemic created time and space where people weren’t traveling to think about travel in a different way,” Denise Naguib, Marriott International’s vice president of sustainability and supplier diversity, said in an interview. Naguib notes corporate clients also want to keep the momentum going after seeing their travel-related carbon emissions drop during the pandemic.
As major companies set more aggressive targets around metrics like carbon emissions, water, and waste, they are also working to ensure their suppliers understand those goals as well, Naguib added.
A world of certifications
Hotels largely call the shots when it comes to their supply chains, but they’re increasingly turning to third-party certifications to standardize and add global prestige to their efforts.
These voluntary certifications, which may apply specifically to hospitality companies or span several industries, can have varying degrees of strictness. They largely tend to focus on operational areas like reducing water and energy consumption, but also address broader goals like sustainable sourcing and impact on the local community.
The most rigorous and well-respected sustainability certifications in tourism are in line with standards managed by the Global Sustainable Tourism Council (GSTC), a U.S.-based nonprofit launched under its current name in 2010. One of the most well-known certifications is Green Globe, which requires hotels’ purchasing policies to favor environmentally friendly products.
Denmark-based Green Key, which has its label on more than 3,200 hospitality businesses mainly based in Europe, built extensive purchasing guidelines into its latest criteria. These include ensuring at least 75% of daily cleaning products have an ecolabel, along with shower amenities like soap and shampoo. At least half of food and beverage products must be organic, fair trade, carry an ecolabel, or be locally sourced.
Another important certification is the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), which played a key role in Bucuti & Tara’s path to becoming carbon neutral in 2018. While the hotel said it has been working for all of its 33 years to offer a responsible travel experience, retrofitting its building to meet LEED standards played a pivotal role. It also holds a host of other certifications, including Green Globe Platinum, ISO 14001 for environmental management, ISO 9001 for quality standards, and Travelife Gold.
A certification is like a road map for how to be sustainable, Biemans said, with each focusing on its own area. Green Globe is very community oriented, for example, while LEED focuses on buildings and requires the hotel to comply with rules for using products like green cleaning supplies, he said. All of these can help a hotel show it is serious about sustainability.
“The certifications we are talking about are actually certifications that prove you put your money where your mouth is,” Biemans said.
For years, eco-lodges and nature hotels have pioneered practices like using locally grown food, avoiding plastic bottles via on-site water sources, and educating consumers about the local environment. Often, travelers actively seek out these experiences. For example, Maui Eco Retreat in Hawaii encourages visitors to drink water from its well, support local farmers’ markets, and learn about composting—all while requiring a five-night minimum stay to help guests connect with the surrounding landscapes.
But larger hotels are still working to strike a balance between pleasing customers and also guiding them toward more sustainable choices. For example, Marriott bans certain types of seafood in its kitchen because of issues like overfishing but would still honor a guest’s request to have their sheets changed every day.
“We get some mixed messages from our guests,” Hilton’s Campbell said. For example, travelers haven’t been complaining much about the chain’s decision to use paper-based straws after banning plastic ones in 2018, but more times than not still leave towels on the floor despite the signs indicating they can save water by hanging them up.
Increasingly, many hotels are seeing value in adding these certifications, which provide more credibility and transparency to their sustainability efforts. Marriott International has a goal for its more than 7,000 hotels to achieve third-party certifications covering operations or buildings by 2025. So far, 36% have sustainability certifications.
Carlos Martin-Rios, associate professor at the Ecole Hôtelière de Lausanne in Switzerland, thinks that both hotels and consumers are taking a pragmatic view of certifications.
Hotels want to show customers they care about the environment, and travelers want to see that the hotels have done something about it—even if they don’t know exactly what that might be. He predicts it will take some time for these ecolabels to consolidate, in part because some hotels could use some of the less-rigorous ones as a shortcut.
“Many hotels want to jump into sustainability without doing all the homework,” said Martin-Rios.
As travelers start looking for more information about hotels’ environmental record, these certifications are becoming more noticeable on booking platforms.
Netherlands-based Booking.com shows which hotels have more than 30 certifications meeting criteria from GSTC, the U.K.-based Green Tourism, and the EU Ecolabel. It has also prompted hundreds of thousands of properties to share sustainability information. This builds on efforts from niche sites like EcoHotels.com, which started operating in 2020 to give eco-conscious travelers an alternative to the big online booking sites. The website shows only hotels certified based on GSTC’s framework.
Certifications are not just for marketing purposes, with research showing an impact on operations too. A study from German tourism behemoth TUI Group, whose companies include more than 400 hotels, 1,000 travel agencies, five airlines, and 15 cruise liners, said that its hotels with sustainability certifications outperformed non-certified ones. In a study of 300 hotels, those certified recorded 10% lower carbon dioxide emissions, 24% lower waste volume, and 19% less fresh water usage for each guest on a nightly basis.
And yet, travelers are still often confused about what the term “eco” means in the hotel space because of a lack of strictly enforced standards around the world.
“It’s a massive problem, globally,” said GSTC CEO Randy Durband, noting there is a lot of confusion among travelers about sustainability labels and what constitutes an eco-hotel.
Holding hotels accountable
Hotels are still largely taking the initiative to set and report on their own climate goals, and in turn decide how it addresses suppliers in that journey.
“I don’t think anyone’s holding hotels accountable, if you will, for what we’re doing in the supply chain, Marriott’s Naguib said, speaking of sustainability initiatives. “We have recognized that this is an important element for our business, and we want to be part of the solution.”
Marriott has a 2025 goal to locally source 50% of its produce, and to also use “responsible” sourcing for 95% of the products it buys in 10 areas like animal products, bottled water, cleaning supplies, seafood, and coffee. Picking commodities that have an ecolabel, such as paper products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council, helps to inform this process.
Hilton, which is working on 2030 goals using science-based targets, relies on a management system it created in 2009 called LightStay to track environmental and social goals. Campbell said the hotel chain has calculated that it reduced carbon emissions about 56% and saw a 47% decrease in water and energy usage and a 73% drop in landfill waste since using it. The hotel also recently partnered with sustainability ratings company EcoVadis to perform sustainability risk assessments and gap analyses for its supply chain.
Aruba’s Bucuti & Tara has also done a meticulous job of tracking data. As the first hotel to win the Global UN Climate Action Award in the “Climate Neutral Now” category, the hotel chain is 90% paperless and buys purchases in bulk that it sends to an offsite warehouse to cut down on deliveries. It tries to source items locally wherever possible.
Hotels could eventually feel a bigger push from regulators looking more broadly at how companies plan to operate in light of climate change. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), for example, recently created a climate and ESG task force and is under pressure from groups like the Sierra Club to tighten up disclosure rules about the impact companies have on the environment.
But for many smaller hotels focused on sustainability, supplier relationships still largely come down to trust. Liutauras Vaitkevicius, asset manager for London’s Zetter Hotel Group, which touts its “pioneering eco-credentials,” said the company focuses on serving seasonal menus from trusted local vendors. But it can’t be there to see how fishermen caught every fish coming into the restaurant.
“We’re committed, but we can’t 100% promise that each and every item on the menu is going to be sustainable,” he said.
GREG BEARUP The Weekend Australian Magazine
June 18, 2021
11 MINUTE READ
Cyclists tackle Derby’s mountain bike trails.
When the eggheads at the Australian Bureau of Statistics hunch over their Casios and crunch the Census figures this year they’ll surely reckon there’s been some sort of data blunder as they tap in the stats for the tiny town of Derby, in the mountains of northeast Tasmania. Last time they looked, six years ago, Derby was a two-pub-one-banjo town of 173 people where you’d be lucky to stumble across a decent pie. Nothing much had happened there since the tin mine closed in 1948. With an unemployment rate north of 20 per cent, when the national figure was south of seven, it was a dirt-poor town in Australia’s least affluent state. The median weekly household income was just $556 – $882 below the national average. With a median age of 58, its residents were, on average, two decades older than the rest of the country.
Tim Watson, general manager of the local Dorset Council, says Derby had “two feet in the grave”. Things were bleak; when its last remaining store closed, the council began subsidising staples and selling them at the town’s mining museum as many of the residents couldn’t afford to travel to the next town for milk and bread and other daily essentials. And then came the resurrection – a godsend for the whole of northeast Tasmania.
In 2015, just before the last Census, the first in a series of high-quality mountain bike trails was quietly opened by the council in the stunning rainforested hills above Derby. Word spread that they’d created something special and cyclists began arriving from the mainland. Things started to snowball. More trails were built. In 2017 Derby hosted a leg of the Enduro World Series, a premier mountain bike event in which the world’s 50 best riders were competing. These elite riders voted Derby the best trail in the world. Cyclists started flying in from around the globe.
I first visited in 2017, early in this metamorphosis, and it was as though the place was awakening from a long slumber. Four years later it has blossomed and it now has the zing and the vigour of a bustling alpine ski village. It’s a frontier town and the air is fresh with the sweet scent of opportunity. Down on Lake Derby, on the edge of town, Australia’s first floating sauna was recently opened and weary cyclists and hikers now pay $45 an hour to relax in the steaming-hot cabins before plunging into the icy waters of the lake. It’s been a raging success. Derby is now the sort of place where young folk happily spend their gap year, working as guides or bike mechanics.
Watson says the council recently did a rough survey, counting all the jobs that had been created just in Derby’s town centre. They came up with 120. Hundreds more people have been employed throughout the district. Every available house in and around Derby has been tarted up and turned into a holiday rental. It’s gone from basket case to boom town and now there’s plenty of work for anyone who wants it. The council has never had to do a detailed survey to measure the trails’ economic impact because, says Watson, “it’s so bloody obvious, we’ve never had to justify it to anyone”.
The local property boom leaves even Sydney in its dust. Andrew Bennett, an agent in the nearby service town of Scottsdale, says prior to the trails opening he had a house in Derby on his books that was impossible to sell. It had been on the market for three years for the bargain price of $125,000. As soon as the trails opened he had three people elbowing each other to buy it. “The owners were just happy to sell… it’d be worth somewhere between $400,000 and $500,000 now,” he says. All across Derby, ramshackle miners’ cottages have been transformed into upscale accommodation. A makeshift caravan park has popped up by the river and the town now has more than 300 accommodation beds. At the last Census it had only 10, and they were rarely slept in.
Tens of thousands of mountain bikers now travel to Tasmania each year to cycle the trails, spending many tens of millions of dollars, and the effects are being felt right across the northeast of the state, particularly in Launceston, which is the main entry point for those flying in. Chris McNally is a co-owner of the boutique hotel Stillwater Seven and its adjoining restaurant Stillwater, which sit at the mouth of Cataract Gorge on the Tamar River at Launceston. McNally says each week a couple of groups of mountain bikers stay in the seven-suite hotel. “The cycling has really showcased the entire area,” he says. “It’s incredible what they have done up there.” The constant stream of tourists flying in to go cycling has been a boon for Stillwater and its sister restaurant, Black Cow Bistro, which had two sittings fully booked on the midweek nights we visited.
Late in 2019 another 110km of tracks, costing about $4 million, were opened in the neighbouring Break O’Day Council, linking the mountain trails of Derby to the coast around St Helens. One of those newly opened tracks, Bay of Fires, runs 42km from the mountains through some of Tasmania’s most spectacular rainforest and ends on the beaches and those famous orange-glowing granite rocks. It is surely a front runner for The World’s Most Magnificent Mountain Bike Trail.
The Derby trails.
Mountain biking has overtaken golf in popularity in Tasmania, according to Chris Griffin, CEO of Visit Northern Tasmania. “It is almost as strong as multi-day walking in terms of things people do when they come to Tassie,” he says. “It’s been an amazing success story… both Derby and St Helens have just had record visitations.”
Griffin says one of the unexpected consequences of the trails has been a cycling renaissance among locals. Tasmania is now producing some of the world’s best young mountain bikers and there’s been an explosion of people taking up the sport. “The most common sight in Launceston now is cars with racks full of bikes,” he says. “The uptake of mountain biking by local kids has meant many parents have been back in the saddle for the first time since their school days, riding with their kids.”
In 2019 – the last consistent statistical year before Covid – 69,314 people travelled from the mainland to go mountain biking in Derby, Griffin says. They spent on average $250 a day and stayed in Tasmania an average of seven days. Those cyclists spent more than $120 million in the state. Since then, the tracks at St Helens have opened and the numbers have grown.
The Museum of Old and New Art completely changed the fortunes of Hobart and the image of Tasmania when it opened in 2011. The trails of Derby and St Helens are Tassie’s other MONA.
Launceston woman Tara Howell and her husband Steve quit their jobs when they were 23 and 25 respectively to pursue their crazy-brave dream of starting a luxury mountain bike venture in Tasmania. Tara was working in a corporate marketing job, having paid her way through university by working as a guide for luxury adventure tourism companies, taking hikers on the Overland Track and Bay of Fires walk. Steve was a mechanic who’d grown up with a love for the Tasmanian bush and was a keen mountain biker. Early in their relationship they promised each other they’d lead an adventurous life together.
A couple of years before the opening of the Derby trails they met with Dorset Council’s GM, Tim Watson, who outlined his grand plans for mountain biking to revive the fortunes of the district. They were impressed with Watson’s drive and vision. “Having been a walking guide, I had what I thought was a good understanding of the market for luxury adventure tourism,” says Tara. “There was no one doing luxury adventure mountain biking. We believed that the same people doing the luxury walking tours would also be into mountain biking. We thought it would be big… all around the world the popularity of mountain biking was just exploding.” They rolled the dice and bet everything they had on a hunch. Everyone told them they were crazy, or damned them with fake enthusiasm. They pressed on. They put in a detailed proposal and were awarded a $500,000 federal government business development grant; unable to lure investors, they then managed to convince a bank to lend them $1 million. In 2017, after four years of hard slog – including getting the necessary approvals to build accommodation in the middle of a forest in a regional reserve – they opened Blue Derby Pods Ride, luxury accommodation for a maximum of eight cyclists, hidden away in the trees above Derby.
“We were completely naive,” Tara says now of their youthful exuberance. She’s just turned 31 and has a 16-month-old son, Winton. “I probably wouldn’t do it now. You really need to do it when you are young and you haven’t got debt, you haven’t got kids, you haven’t got any baggage – you just do it. You’ve got nothing to lose.”
In the how-to book for successful rural and regional development, the golden rule must be to make your town an attractive place for young people like Steve and Tara Howell to live. They are the fire in the belly of regional revival. Tara says that had it not been for the Derby trails she and Steve would probably have left Tasmania to look for opportunities on the mainland or abroad. Instead they stayed and built a successful business that now employs 20 full-time and part-time cooks, guides and cleaners – the equivalent of eight to 10 full-time staff. A huge consumer of gourmet Tasmanian produce, it is a business built on giving its guests the best of everything Tasmania has to offer – beers, pastries, wine, cheese, rainforests, guides, pickles, beaches, mountain bike trails, oysters, bikes, views… “Basically, at every touchpoint we are trying to blow people’s minds,” says Steve.
One morning we rise early and, towing a trailer full of bikes, we are driven to the summit of Blue Tier, a range of hills halfway between Derby and St Helens that rises to a summit of 859m. It’s a beautiful sunny day with a nip in the air and we set off for the first kilometre or so along a rocky ridge line with our destination, the coast, far on the horizon. The trail is tricky and rocky but immaculately maintained. We drop off the mountain into a forest of ferns that feels prehistoric. The track is what mountain bikers refer to as “flowy” – like a smooth rollercoaster. In parts it’s also challenging – at one point I lose control and end up over the handlebars in the dirt, as does almost everyone in our group at some point.
We enter a stand of Eucalyptus regnans, the world’s tallest flowering plant, and stop to admire these whales of the forest. The riding is mainly downhill but there is still a fair amount of up and I’m glad to be riding a new, state-of-the-art electric mountain bike – it’s like I’ve swallowed a schooner of Lance Armstrong Lager before setting off. We pop out of the rainforests and into the coastal hinterland of granite, sandy soils and open eucalypt forests – an incredible cross section of the Tasmanian landscape. Even with electrical assistance 42km is a long mountain bike ride so it’s a welcome relief when we smell the ocean, cruise down to a secluded beach on the Bay of Fires and plunge into the crisp, clear water.
After we towel off, a picnic meal prepared by chef Tom Dicker is laid out on those famous firey granite rocks – local oysters, freshly caught octopus cooked with chorizo and spuds, scallops in lemon and dill butter, all washed down with local Pirie sparkling wine and pale ale from Little Rivers Brewing Co. If I was to tally up the best days of my life, this one would make the finals.
Accommodation in Derby.
When Steve and Tara were setting up their business they thought it would appeal to people in their 30s and 40s riding “analogue bikes” – without electric motors. Surprisingly, the average age has been 53 and about half the clients are on electric bikes. Husbands ride with their wives, mothers cycle with their sons. “There’s so much desire for people to challenge themselves, especially when they are in their 40s and 50s,” Steve says. “They want to be free and jump on the bike and roar down a mountain like they used to when they were a kid.”
It is also a deeply personal experience. There’s something about being out in nature, at the edge of your comfort zone, that triggers intense emotions. Our 19-year-old guide Charlie Edis, who is spending part of his gap year at Derby, says he’s had middle-aged businessmen sobbing on his shoulder, dissatisfied with the direction of their lives.
It’s been a game-changer for St Helens, too. Brendan Watmore, from tourism analytics company Tourist Tracka, says an analysis of mobile phone data shows there was a 50 per cent increase in the number of Victorians visiting St Helens in the year to January. “Not only are more Victorians travelling, but we saw an increase of 200 per cent from higher socio-economic groups,” he says. “These higher-value travellers are the most attractive to destination marketers because they spend more money on their experiences and tend to stay for longer and see more places.”
Jayne Richardson, from Break O’Day Council, says businesses in the St Helens area report takings are up 50 per cent compared with previous years. She says it’s usual for staff to be laid off during winter but “the businesses we surveyed last winter had put on staff – it was incredible”. And when it was announced the new trails would be built, $15 million worth of new investment in tourism ventures were lodged with the council – new cabins at the caravan parks, motels being renovated, two new bike shops, pubs dolled up…
Richardson says there’s been an influx of young people into the shire and a quarter of new residents nominated the opening of the mountain bike trails as one of the major factors influencing their decision to move. St Helens, it seems, is about to do a Derby.
Stephen Calleja The Malta Independent Sunday, 13 June 2021,
Malta’s tourism industry has been the mainstay of the economy for decades.
Starting off with the first hotels in the 1960s, the sector developed quickly over the years as successive governments understood that it was generating jobs and bringing in so much money.
By 1970, the arrivals were at around 170,000, a big number at the time, given the infrastructure Malta had 50 years ago, but less than what we get in one month these days – pre-Covid19 days, that is.
We had reached 700,000 by 1980, but the political tribulations of that particular decade pushed the numbers down again to around 500,000 before starting to climb again post 1987 as the country started to invest heavily in upgrading its services including, but not only, communications.
We reached the one million target in the early 1990s, based mostly on a strategy to market Malta as an island of sea and sun. The private sector heavily invested in new hotels and the upgrading of existing ones, going for the high-end tourist as well as opening up more to business and conference travel.
As Malta diversified its product, went for more niche markets and worked to expand the English language schools sector, more and more tourists chose this little island of ours to spend a few days of holiday, come over for corporate purposes and study.
Since then, the industry grew exponentially until it doubled itself to two million arrivals in the mid-2010s and edged closer to three million. Year after year, the number of arrivals grew, although this did not always translate into higher expenditure. Still, the industry remained one of the major pillars of the Maltese economy.
Then Covid-19 hit, and what was painstakingly built over many years crumbled into almost nothing. The spread of the disease quickly meant that the airport needed to be closed for a time and, even when it reopened, most people were still too afraid to travel. As a result of this, the tourism industry as a whole suffered tremendously. Tourists stopped coming to Malta. There followed months of empty hotels and jobs in the industry being lost.
With Covid-19 numbers going down since April, the government could plan what it described as the road to economic recovery. It set 1 June as the day when it would become pro-active again in the tourism industry, while at the same time offering incentives to potential tourists, such as the free independent traveler scheme. Tourists were told that they will be “paid” to come to Malta, as they would be given up to €200 each in free services.
1 June has come and gone, and it is still too early to gauge the results. But the months-long “suspension” of the tourism industry should have been a chance for a rethinking of the tourism industry.
It will take some time, possibly a few years, for Malta to return to having the same tourist numbers that it did in 2019. Statistics available on the Malta Tourism Authority website show that, in 2019, the number of tourists who visited Malta was nearly 2.8 million, including overnight cruise passengers. The number of guest nights moved up to more than 19 million, for a seven-day average length of stay. That year, tourists spent €2.2 billion.
Looking more closely, per capita expenditure dipped slightly from €687 in 2018 to €683 in 2019 but, given that, on average, fewer nights per spent, this still meant an increase in per capita expenditure per night from €113 in 2018 to €115 in 2019.
Big numbers which were set to grow even more were it not for the pandemic.
But the question that should be asked is this: how many tourists can Malta sustain? The older generations will remember that there was talk of a saturation point even when the one million target had been achieved. As the numbers continued to grow and we moved beyond double and were getting close to triple, the debate continues.
Before Covid, the government constantly boasted about the regular increase in arrivals. But is there a limit as to how many tourists Malta can accommodate? Is there a saturation point? Have we reached it and, if not, are we getting close to it?
Many will argue that although the numbers are very high in the summer months – some would say “too high” – there are months in which Malta could sustain an even bigger influx. The mild winter Malta experiences, together with the various cultural events that are being held during this time, could be an attraction to the many tourists who would prefer not to come over in our stifling summer months. We still have pockets we could fill in these particular months.
So far we have not been able to level the numbers across the year. We have many more tourists arriving in summer when compared to winter, which means a bigger stress on the industry and infrastructure in the warmer months, and less pressure in the cooler weather.
We would like to think that Malta is a five-star destination. But if you just look around you will quickly realize that we are far from reaching that level.
Our hotels, perhaps, can offer such a service to their customers within the confines of their complex. But most tourists do not come to Malta to stay in hotels. They come here to visit parts of the country, and so they come across situations which do not give them the idea that they are in a top-notch destination. Once they leave the comfort of the hotel they are staying in, they come face to face with situations that are not pleasant at all.
Cleanliness, for a start, is not our strong point. Most of us still tend to think that what is public is not ours. We keep our homes spick and span, but we do not care to do likewise when we are on the road and in other public places, be they beaches or gardens. There is litter everywhere.
That the government then boasts that hundreds of tonnes of waste were removed in a clean-up campaign confirms all this – we are a dirty nation and a dirty people. The question is: how long will it take for a need for another clean-up campaign, when more hundreds of tonnes of waste will be collected?
Services offered to tourists also leave much to be desired. Improvement has been registered in public transport, but we still lag behind in terms of bus punctuality. This, in part, happens because most Maltese still prefer using their own vehicles to go from point A to point B, which means that in spite of all the investment in the road network, there are still too many areas where traffic slows down. Talk of other public transport alternatives remains just that – talk.
The country still remains one whole permanent construction site. Go anywhere, and you will find cranes which disturb the view or block roads. Go anywhere and you will find some building being pulled down. Go anywhere and just listen to the noise of cars and machinery. Go anywhere and you can taste the dust and pollution.
This is having an impact on the lives of the residents, but also leaves tourists disenchanted. They were promised a quiet holiday, but they are not getting one.
Malta’s geographical size is not getting any bigger, but the population has mushroomed. It took us 50 years to climb from the roughly 300,000 people in 1960 to the roughly 400,000 people in 2010, but then it took us just 10 years to move up by another 100,000 to 500,000 and more in 2020. Add give or take an average of 200,000 tourists who are in Malta every month (in normal times) and one can understand the stress – from an already high population density of 1,600 persons per square kilometer, this moves up to more than 2,200 persons per square kilometer when one calculates tourists.
The Labour government’s policy of upping the economy through population growth had its positive effects but it had its downsides too.
It meant more apartments, more cars and more pressure on the infrastructure and the environment. The new roads that were built are already not enough to meet with the demand. And the building goes on, relentlessly, often taking up the few open spaces that we have left.
Gozo was once a quaint little place where one could get some respite and much-needed breathing space. It is no longer so (except for the time when pandemic restrictions were in place). And there are now plans to link it by tunnel to Malta. If and when it happens, it will become less isolated and more accessible, but also more crowded and unattractive.
For many years, tourists used to come to Malta because of the quiet, laid-back atmosphere and the weather. But summers are becoming hotter and, sadly, Malta is no longer as picturesque and charming as it used to be.
Experts will tell you that it would be better to attract fewer tourists, but bigger spenders. This would ease the pressure while at the same time maintain or possibly increase profits. But we are far from being able a top-notch destination, so there has to be a reliance on numbers. The more we get, the more Malta becomes less attractive. And the more Malta becomes less attractive, the more it is shunned by the bigger spenders.
UNWTO Tourism Barometer Volume 19 Issue 3 May 2021
Miami Herald June 04th, 2021
All eyes will be on the Caribbean this weekend as passengers board a cruise ship in the region for the first time in seven months.
However, the highly anticipated return of cruising in a region hard-hit by the coronavirus and now seeing a surge in cases amid low vaccination rates and the reopening of tourism-dependent economies, is worrying, say some industry watchers and public health experts, who fear that cruises in the middle of the ongoing global pandemic may do more harm than good.
“It is imperative to act with utmost caution,” said Dr. Sylvain Aldighieri, incident manager for the World Health Organization’s Americas arm, the Pan American Health Organization.
Cruise companies have put new protocols in place to better protect passengers and crew. Still, Aldighieri and his colleagues at PAHO say there are no guarantees that ships, which spread COVID-19 around the region last year, won’t see a repeat of the outbreaks that forced Caribbean nations to shut their ports in March 2020 for fear sick passengers would overwhelm their finite health resources.
“At present, with the evolution of the spread of the virus across the Americas and Europe, the unknowns related to the impact of COVID-19 vaccines on the transmission of the virus, and the challenges related to accessing the vaccine and rollout of the vaccine in most of the countries of the region, we need to act with caution,” he said.
Unlike the U.S., which has largely reopened its economy amid rising vaccination rates and declining infection rates, Caribbean nations are weighing the economic benefits of welcoming cruise passengers with the potential public health calamity an outbreak could bring. Many Caribbean islands, including St. Maarten, where this weekend’s cruise will depart from, are still reporting a surge in infections.
AT LEAST FIVE CRUISE SHIPS TO DEPART FROM THE CARIBBEAN
On June 5, Celebrity Millennium, which is part of the Royal Caribbean Group’s Celebrity Cruises fleet, is scheduled to depart from the Dutch territory for a seven-night cruise that will take U.S. passengers to three other islands in the eastern Caribbean: Aruba, Curacao and Barbados. The cruise line will offer other itineraries that include stops in St. Lucia and Tortola in the British Virgin Islands.
Ludmila de Weever, St. Maarten’s tourism minister, recently told journalists that having the ship home port out of the Dutch territory “is a significant economic milestone for St. Maarten and another step on our path to economic recovery.”
“Celebrity Cruises home porting here will help drive our economy and rejuvenate opportunities for our people,” she said. “The opportunities are endless. It is hotel nights, it is transportation, whether big tour companies or taxi drivers, bus drivers, restaurants.”
Over a 14-week period, the cruise company is expected to garner the country as much as $52 million, the ministry said.
At least four other cruise ships have plans to start cruises from the Caribbean this summer: Royal Caribbean Group’s Adventure of the Seas, Carnival Corporation’s Seabourn Odyssey, Windstar’s Star Breeze and Crystal Cruises’ Crystal Serenity.
Three other ships — Royal Caribbean Group’s Vision of the Seas and Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings’ Norwegian Gem and Norwegian Joy — recently canceled plans for cruises home ported in the Caribbean after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention signaled it would soon allow for revenue cruises to begin out of U.S. ports.
So far the CDC has given the green light to two cruise ships to restart revenue cruises out of the U.S.: Celebrity Edge will depart Port Everglades on June 26 and Celebrity Equinox will depart July 4 for a seven-night cruise visiting Cozumel and Costa Maya, Mexico, and Nassau, The Bahamas. Several other ships are pending similar approvals for Caribbean cruises.
TRAVEL PROTOCOLS, VACCINATIONS CARDS
Caribbean countries, some still struggling with testing capacity and vaccine hesitancy, are taking different approaches to vaccine requirements. The CDC recommends that all cruise ship passengers, crew and port workers be vaccinated, but will not require it. Meanwhile, PAHO and the WHO say they do not support requirements asking travelers to show proof of vaccination to travel. Still in recent weeks, a number of Caribbean countries have changed their protocols to do just that.
St. Kitts and Nevis will require all crew and all passengers over the age of 18 on ships that visit its shores to be vaccinated. Anyone under the age of 18 must present a negative RT-PCR test within 72 hours of embarkation. All personnel interacting with cruise vessel operations including ship agents, port staff, taxi and tour operators must be vaccinated.
The Bahamas has also announced changes to its testing requirement for vaccinated travelers. Those who are fully vaccinated will be required to upload proof of vaccination in lieu of an RT-PCT test requirement and have proof they have passed the two-week immunity period.
St. Lucia recently announced an easing of its on-island protocols for fully COVID-19 vaccinated travelers who present a vaccine card showing they are two weeks passed their dosage requirement. They will now be allowed to book rental cars, dine at more local restaurants and visit tourism spots like Castries, Rodney Bay and Soufrière like a local. All travelers 5 years and older into St. Lucia still must have a negative RT-PCR COVID-19 test taken no more than five days before arrival.
St. Lucia’s Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, who has been leading discussions on the return of cruising to the Caribbean, specifically the eastern Caribbean, said ideally all passengers and crews would be vaccinated. Absent that, he said, they have taken steps to safely welcome the return of cruising tourists.
Chastanet said the itinerary through the eastern Caribbean is being treated as one stop with one chief medical officer in charge in case of a public health emergency. He and his counterparts in other Caribbean countries, he said, have “encouraged” cruise lines to have everyone vaccinated.
Dr. Michael Callahan, director of the Clinical Translation, Vaccine and Immunotherapy Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, who helped treat and evacuate sick passengers and crew on the Diamond Princess and Grand Princess cruise ships last year, said companies operating cruises in the Caribbean should require everyone on board who are 12 years old and older to be vaccinated.
“The pandemic is not over until its also over for Caribbean nations that provide cruise ships with a port of call,” Callahan said via email. “Until then, the Industry should only visit ports in countries with strong vaccine programs and public health. To do otherwise poses a risk of spreading more variants, which will increase the risk for everyone. Nobody who understands the pandemic thinks it’s a good idea for cruise ships to go back to sea this summer with unvaccinated passengers and crew. The industry poses a unique risk to global health by providing a safe haven for COVID among unvaccinated passengers, and transporting these more dangerous viruses from country to county.”
The region has long pushed to have summer cruises through its crystal blue waters. Still, some are accusing regional leaders of prioritizing tourism over public health.
“We’re trying to do everything we can to minimize the level of risk,” Chastanet said. “There’s risk in everything that you’re going to do. I think our solution is a very good example that we’ve taken that risk head on and not allowed COVID to define us.”
COVID-19 ‘DRIED UP’ CARIBBEAN TOURISM RECEIPTS
In a paper published in July 2020, the Inter-American Development Bank said that Latin America and the Caribbean will suffer an unprecedented economic shock from the sharp downturn in tourism. The Americas region is home to the world’s most tourism-dependent economies, with Aruba, where one in three jobs is linked to tourism, topping the chart, followed by Antigua and Barbuda, and The Bahamas. In fact, 14 of the 15 most tourism-dependent nations in the region are located in the Caribbean, the IDB said.
Tourism receipts in the eastern Caribbean, which account for 40 percent of Gross Domestic Product, have “dried up,” the International Monetary Fund has said. The cruising bans and drop in air travel caused tourism-dependent countries to contract by 9.8 percent in 2020. Though countries like St. Lucia and others in the eastern Caribbean initially managed to contain the virus, the reopening to international travelers has brought new waves of infections, forcing lockdowns and curfews.
Barbados Tourism Minister Lisa Cummins, speaking at a recent Martinique tourism conference about the future of cruise tourism in the region said, while regional authorities and public health officials continue to have “serious conversations” around harmonizing protocols for the resumption of cruise tourism, she is “concerned” that discussions about COVID, protocols and vaccines, will only take officials to the point where they have successfully navigated the resumption but not the future of the cruise industry in the Caribbean.
“What does a new model look like?” Cummins said. “As we develop new protocols, we have to talk about vaccine equity, the challenges that are being faced by many of our economies in accessing vaccines so that we can restart the travel industry; so that we can restart the cruise industry.”
The industry, she said, brings close to 3.9 million passengers through the Caribbean region.
THE CARIBBEAN’S COVID-19 VACCINE INEQUITY
Vaccination efforts in the Caribbean region continue to be hampered by vaccine hesitancy and low access to doses, with many countries relying on the U.N.-backed COVAX Facility to get doses that are in short supply.
While the U.S. has a vaccination rate of 51 percent, an analysis of figures for COVID cases, deaths and vaccinations by the Miami Herald, el Nuevo Herald and McClatchy’s Washington Bureau found that many Caribbean countries continue to lag behind. The two island nations, Barbados and the Bahamas, and one territory, St. Maarten, where ships will be home ported, all have less than 50% of their population vaccinated. The island-nation with the highest vaccination rate, according to the analysis, is the Cayman Islands at 65.5%. Despite that, it has chosen to keep a cruise ban in place for the time being.
The lack of a consistent vaccination requirement for cruise lines, and the lack of clarity on how an outbreak may be dealt with, creates unease for some.
“The question is going to become for those Caribbean communities, what reopening plans do they have in place?” said André Wright, executive vice president of Standard International Group, which follows the cruise industry and advises port authorities. “Will they just accept those passages that are vaccinated and then how is that all going to be enforced once they’re on the ground? These are questions that I am not hearing all of the answers from each and every Island.”
Cruise companies have different vaccination requirements. Windstar and Crystal Cruises will require only passengers to be vaccinated, Royal Caribbean and Celebrity Cruises will require all crew and passengers over the age of 16 be vaccinated and Seabourn will require all on board to have had the shot.
Testing requirements vary as well, with some companies requiring negative antigen tests at the pier and others negative PCR tests within a certain time frame prior to boarding.
Tests alone were not enough to stop a ship-board COVID-19 outbreak during the last cruise in the Caribbean. Seven passengers and two crew members tested positive for COVID-10 aboard the SeaDream 1 cruise ship in November. What was supposed to be a seven-day voyage launching cruising’s comeback in the region was cut short after passengers began to test positive for COVID-19 midway through the cruise. The ship promptly returned to Barbados, where patients were sent to local hospitals.
With at least seven ships planning cruises in the region at the same time this summer, Wright worries about the well-being of locals who have not yet been vaccinated.
“The health and safety protocol has to be sounded out, it has to make sense for not only the protection of the cruise passengers, and the money that they’re going to spend on the islands, but also for the communities themselves,” he said. “And I don’t think much attention has been put to that.”
UNWTO June 2nd 2021
International tourist arrivals were down 83% in the first quarter of 2021 as widespread travel restrictions remained in place. However, the UNWTO Confidence Index shows signs of a slow uptick in confidence.
Between January and March 2021 destinations around the world welcomed 180 million fewer international arrivals compared to the first quarter of last year. Asia and the Pacific continued to suffer the lowest levels of activity with a 94% drop in international arrivals over the three-month period. Europe recorded the second largest decline with -83%, followed by Africa (-81%), the Middle East (-78%) and the Americas (-71%). This all follows on from the 73% fall in worldwide international tourist arrivals recorded in 2020, making it the worst year on record for the sector.
Lack of coordination harms #RestartTourism
UNWTO Secretary-General Zurab Pololikashvili comments: “There is significant pent-up demand and we see confidence slowly returning. Vaccinations will be key for recovery, but we must improve coordination and communication while making testing easier and more affordable if we want to see a rebound for the summer season in the northern hemisphere.”
The latest survey of the UNWTO Panel of Tourism Experts shows prospects for the May-August period improving slightly. Alongside this, the pace of the vaccination rollout in some key source markets as well as policies to restart tourism safely, most notably the EU Digital Green Certificate, have boosted hopes for a rebound in some of these markets.
Overall, 60% expect a rebound in international tourism only in 2022, up from 50% in the January 2021 survey. The remaining 40% see a potential rebound in 2021, though this is down slightly from the percentage in January. Nearly half of the experts do not see a return to 2019 international tourism levels before 2024 or later, while the percentage of respondents indicating a return to pre-pandemic levels in 2023 has somewhat decreased (37%), when compared to the January survey.
Tourism experts point to the continued imposition of travel restrictions and the lack of coordination in travel and health protocols as the main obstacle to the sector’s rebound.
The Impact of COVID on Tourism cuts global exports by 4%
The UNWTO World Tourism Barometer also shows the economic toll of the pandemic. International tourism receipts in 2020 declined by 64% in real terms (local currencies, constant prices), equivalent to a drop of over US$ 900 billion, cutting the overall worldwide exports value by over 4% in 2020. The total loss in export revenues from international tourism (including passenger transport) amounts to nearly US$ 1.1 trillion. Asia and the Pacific (-70% in real terms) and the Middle East (-69%) saw the largest drops in receipts.
Jim Hepple is an Assistant Professor at the University of Aruba and is Managing Director of Tourism Analytics.